A Monsanto Roundup plaintiff who won an $80 million verdict last year is seeking reinstatement of the $75 million in punitive damages originally awarded by the California federal jury convened to hear his case.
Edward Hardeman, a California resident in his late 70s, was an avid home gardener and used Monsanto Roundup for nearly 30 years before learning he had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2014. His lawsuit alleged that exposure to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup products, contributed to the development of his cancer.
Last March, a jury in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, found that glyphosate was a substantial factor in Hardeman’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and awarded him $80 million, including the $75 million in punitive damages. However, the judge overseeing the trial reduced the punitive award to $20 million, ostensibly to comply with California’s statutory limits, even while agreeing that Monsanto’s conduct in regards to glyphosate was “reprehensible.”
Nevertheless, Bayer AG, which acquired Monsanto in June 2018, has turned to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in a bid overturn the verdict entirely. In a brief filed with the appeals court on March 16th, Hardeman’s attorneys asked that the appeal be rejected and requested that the original punitive award be reinstated.
Among other things, they argue that “the district court erred as a matter of law in holding that the jury’s punitive damages award of $75 million – an amount less than 0.1% of Monsanto’s net worth – was constitutionally excessive, and reducing that award to $20 million, in light of the extreme reprehensibility of Monsanto’s decades of misconduct and the fact that its intentional deception continues to threaten the health of millions of consumers worldwide.”
Bayer is currently defending more than 75,000 Monsanto Roundup lawsuits in courts nationwide that blame glyphosate for causing cancer. Only two others have gone to trial, and plaintiffs also prevailed in both of those cases. So far, juries hearing these claims have ordered the German company to pay compensatory and punitive damages totaling more than $2 billion.
While Bayer continues to insist glyphosate is safe and does not cause cancer, the company is participating in court-ordered mediation to resolve the Roundup litigation. Those talks are said to be progressing well, with some reports indicating that Bayer is nearing a global Monsanto Roundup settlement in the range of $10 billion.